How to apply self-tanner in four simple steps

Spring break is right around the corner. If you are heading to the pool or the beach, a sun-kissed tan is a great accessory. Just make sure it’s done safely and without UV damage. Learn how to apply self-tanner in four simple steps.


It’s best to treat any dry skin patches before you apply self-tanner. Self-tanner can easily penetrate dry skin and leave an unnatural, uneven color. Focus on rough or dry areas, such as the elbows and legs. Cell Reboot Exfoliating Skin Polisher is our favorite because it exfoliates gently with organic rice powder and oats, giving your skin a healthy glow.

BONUS TIP: Shave, wax, have a manicure, or touch up the color of your hair at least one day prior to applying self-tanner. All of these can take away your bronze glow.


Moisturizing is the final step in preparing your skin. Focus on areas that are drier, such as the elbows, knees, and feet. Dehydrated skin will not look as if it is dry. Choose an oil-free moisturizer, like Derma Topix ultra-light moisture dew lotion. Use a moisturizer without oil. The oil will create a barrier that prevents a uniform color.

Use a generous amount.

You may be unsure of how to apply the self-tanner or afraid to use too much. A streaky tan can be caused by using too little product or rubbing. You’ll achieve a more even, smoother coverage by using a generous amount.

Apply self-tanner in circular, smooth motions, starting at the ankles. This will help prevent strange marks from appearing when you bend down. Last, save your arms and the backs of your hands. Relax your fingers to avoid the self-tanner settling into your knuckles.

BONUS TUTORIAL: If there is a mistake in the makeup, exfoliate the area with a toner containing alcohol. This will even be the color.

Do not skip the SPF.

You are not safe from the sun just because your skin has a gorgeous bronze glow. If you plan to spend your spring break at the beach or pool, we recommend EltaMD UV Sport Water-Resistant Broad-Spectrum SPF 50. It is water-resistant and won’t run into your eyes while swimming or sweating. We recommend EltaMD Broad-Spectrum Water-Resistant SPF 50 if you plan to spend your spring break at the beach or pool. Its water-resistant formula will not run into your eye while swimming or sweating.

Try a different formula if you are more comfortable with self-tanning.

Once you’ve mastered your technique, you can try different formulas. Even seasoned pros may find it difficult to apply a spray formula evenly. Avene’s Moisturizing Silky Gel is a great option. This gel is non-greasy, lightweight, and gives skin a golden radiance in only one hour. It works quickly, so we don’t recommend this for beginners.